Los Angeles is a pretty big place. It can be overwhelming, and at times befuddling. Fortunately, there's an app for that.
Actually, there are a ton of apps for Los Angeles. And most of them are terrible. Some are good; some of the best ones are obvious — Google Maps, Waze, Uber. Some are not. Here are the 10 best non-super-obvious apps that make living in L.A. a little bit easier.
Unlike most things the city does, L.A.'s official app is not half bad! It lets you do such exciting things as pay your DWP bill, request bulky item and graffiti removal, report a homeless encampment, and report a pothole or sidewalk repair. The city is actually pretty good at addressing most of these problems, especially graffiti removal. After filling out a report on the app, you're given a ticket number, and you'll be sent an email when the problem has been dealt with.
9. Ecology Center’s Farmers Market Finder
There used to be a good app called the California Farmers Market Finder, but unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a while and is basically defunct. Your best option, if you're looking for a farmers market near you, is to use the mobile version of the Ecology Center's website, which you can access by clicking here. It allows you to view every farmers market in the city on a map, and it tells you when they're open. Someone make this into an app!
8. Taco Locator
There are a lot of food apps. There's Postmates for ordering food, OpenTable for reservations at fancy restaurants, Yelp for reviews and menus (and trolling). Nowadays, most individual restaurants have their own apps, some of which even let you order and pay. But for simplicity and whimsy, we like Taco Locator. Pretty simple concept here — finds taco places near you, shows you photos and reviews.
7. The Infatuation
This is the comprehensive restaurant app that you've been waiting for. The Infatuation has well-written reviews and an elegant design, but most of all it covers nearly every restaurant in the city, with ratings and links to menus and photos of the food. Easily the best app for helping a group of people decide where to go to have dinner.
6. Roaming Hunger
Love food trucks? Then you really ought to download Roaming Hunger, which can locate the food trucks closest to you. The app hasn't been updated since 2015, but still seems to work pretty well — it gives you the schedule for all the trucks, and has menus and reviews as well.
5. Modern Hiker
Modern Hiker, the indispensable guide to hiking in Los Angeles, used to have an app, but keeping it updated proved troublesome, according to the site's owner, Casey Schreiner. No matter — the site's mobile version works great, and can be used to both find hikes and to help you stay on the right trail. If you really want a stand-alone app, you can always spring for Day Hikes Around Los Angeles, which will set you back $4.99. It looks great from the photos — we don't have that kind of money so we haven't tried it.
4. Our Malibu Beaches
Malibu is a 21-mile strip of gorgeous beaches, and its rich homeowners will stop at nothing to keep the great unwashed from weaseling their way into them. They'll install gates, post security guards, even put up fake "no parking" signs. Unfortunately for them, the pesky California Coastal Act says that all beaches are open to the public. Yet many Malibu beaches remain difficult to access without a bit of know-how, or at least the Our Malibu Beaches app, designed by environmental activist Jenny Price. The app lists 43 beaches in the 'Bu, from Las Tunas to Leo Carillo, tells you how to get there, how to get in, where to park. and then points out all the illegal signs for your amusement. It includes many other helpful tips, like where to put your blanket down and where to find a bathroom, and even throws in a bit of history about the various beaches. This app will make you want to spend your weekends exploring Malibu. It may also make you want to start a class war.
How often do we meticulously plan our drive, cross-checking routes with Waze and Google Maps, only to arrive at our destination and spend 15 minutes circling the block looking for the cheapest parking lot? The solution to this is ParkMe, a ridiculously helpful app that shows you various parking lots on a map, tells you how much they cost and how full they are, as well as whether or not they accept credit card, how late they're open, if they have covered parking and so on. In some cases, you can even pay in advance. It's especially helpful for downtown L.A. and LAX.
2. Polis Assist
For street parking, there's Polis Assist, a relatively new app that shows you how much different parking meters cost and, crucially, when you can and can't park on various streets, which could be a lifesaver in a city with some incredibly byzantine stacks of parking signs.
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1. 5 Every Day
Designed by, of all people, the Silver Lake indie band YACHT, 5 Every Day is not the most useful app in the world. It doesn't have an interactive map, doesn't let you pay for anything, or upload photos of anything, or let you connect with people. It's a beautifully minimalist app with a simple purpose: giving people five ideas for things to do in Los Angeles. It's written and curated by people who actually live here and care about the city. It's an excellent tool for exploring L.A. that newcomers and natives alike will find inspiring.
Honorable mentions: The ArcLight app, which is a truly great app for a great but overpriced movie theater; the In-N-Out app, which is a not-very-useful app (no ordering for pickup) for a delicious and underpriced eatery you may have heard about; GoMetro, a decent app from the government agency that runs our public transit system, which is not really any better than Google Maps but still good; and the KCRW Fringe Benefits app, useful for KCRW members who keep forgetting where their membership gives them a discount.